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2023: Uzodimma, Okunna, Nwodo others urge editors against sensationalism, destabilising leaders

_Conference venue changed over hotel's service_ 

By Rose Oranye".

AHEAD the 2023 general elections, editors in Nigeria's print and electronic media have been advised to avoid sensational journalism  and be keen on verifying facts before use in their platforms.

Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, made this call yesterday, on members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) who are holding their 18th All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC) in Owerri.

The governor noted that sensation and fake news heat up the political space, create crisis in the society and criminalises the profession. 

Governor Uzodimma promised to make the job of journalists easier by creating enabling conditions and aesthetically appealing environment for journalists to practice in the state.

Further, in his remarks as host governor and guest of honour,  Chief Uzodinma, reminded the editors of their critical role in shaping events and activities in the coming election, citing the maxim that “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

He stated that facts are sacred, therefore editors must verify their facts before publishing.

In his address of welcome, the President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isah, said the theme of the conference, 'Political Landscape, Credible Elections and Role of Editors', was carefully chosen in view of the forthcoming elections.

"As journalists, we cannot afford to shy away from interrogating our present political landscape and preparations for the elections considering the fact that we played a great role in the enthronement of the current democratic dispensation. It's in our enlightened self-interest to help nurture the baby which we made enormous sacrifices to midwife", he said.

Earlier at the opening ceremony, the first female Professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria, Chinyere Stella Okunna charged editors to know who they are and their roles in the country, especially as the nation moves close to 2023 general election.

Prof Okunna, who chaired the opening ceremony of  the ongoing conference, stated that as gatekeepers and agenda setters, editors are in better positions to dictate and redirect public opinion to either favour or de-market any politician or candidate for election.

 Okunna, who is also a fellow of the guild, said that editors are very powerful and are the oxygen that gives breath to democracy in the country.

She stated that without the oxygen, democracy in Nigeria will die.

Describing editors as gate keepers, Okunna said, " as elections come, who are you going to open the gate for?  We owe society a duty to be responsible in the discharge of our duties which is where the ethics come in."

In a paper titled, 'Mobilising Citizens for Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria', former Minister of Information and Culture, Chief Nnia Nwodo urged editors to focus attention on views of candidates contesting the forthcoming elections on restructuring, pointing out that restructuring will divert attention from the model of sharing of revenue to productivity and new wealth areas.

Meanwhile, venue of the conference has  been  moved to the Conference Hall of RockView Hotel, Owerri, from its originally touted Imo Concorde Hotel.

This followed the inability of  the Imo Concorde Hotel, to offer expected services during the program,  which clearly manifested during the opening ceremonies.

Secretary of NGE, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, while announcing the decision to change the conference's venue towards the end of yesterday's program,  lamented that apart from the hotel's failure in offering steady power supply during the program, it  couldn't provide water for members of the guild lodging in the hotel.

Our reporter who was at the conference venue yesterday noted that the most embarrassing of the several lowly situations was that there was power outage that occured shortly after Gov. Uzodimma and his entourage settled down for the opening ceremony and lasted long before the situation was arrested, which raised fear among participants and guests at the occasion, putting security agents of the governor and others on red alert as they were spotted taking strategic positions to protect their principals while the outage lasted.

Announcing the new venue of the conference, officials of the guild in a WhatsApp message sent to some of the guild members' group chats later in the night read: " Dear Colleagues, the venue of the 18th All Nigeria Editors Conference has been moved to the Conference Hall of RockView Hotel, Owerri. The program has not changed.

We wish to tender unreserved apology for the inconvenience the change may have caused you".

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